It is a badge of social pride to be able to say that you devised a new IKEA hack that nobody else dreamed up. The one I'm going to show below does not score very highly on the absolute creativity scale, but it represents an adaption that is potentially useful to millions of Americans. It's been done before, but not very often, and not the way we did it, nor for the same reasons: using a Numerar butcher-block countertop to span the wall-to-wall space above the washer and dryer in a typical American tract home laundry room, rather than installing it in a kitchen as was originally intended.
|These are the only two pre-existing examples I found after an extensive search and I wouldn't call either of these spaces "typical" by tract home standards. On the left, an under-stair design from Inspired Kitchen Designs. On the right, machines tucked into a room corner where unfortunately the sheetrock did not extend fully forward such that the counter had to stop short of the fronts of the machines. This second one is from Wild Ink Press.|
|The laundry or utility "room" is often nothing more than a short bridging hallway (we jokingly call ours an "air lock") between the house and the attached garage (in our case, the kitchen is on the left, and the garage is on the right of it). Millions and millions of neoeclectic suburban tract homes have been built using much the same configuration.|
About a year ago, I published this Part 1 post describing a make-over we did in order to maximize the efficiency of this tiny space. I also published this post describing the lighting upgrade.
|This was the result from a year ago, but it still left us with one unsolved problem.|
|I use the space on top of the washer to house my second microwave oven (two microwaves are necessary when you have a diet which is largely freezer-based). I put a large cutting board beneath that, but it wasn't a real counter top and there was some unclaimed work space on the sides of the laundry machines. Washers and dryers by themselves do not a good countertop make.|
|Standard kitchen countertops, regardless of price point, are only 25 inches deep. Screengrabbed from Google.|
|If you use standard kitchen countertop in your laundry, it won't extend all the way out to the front of your machines. Standard countertop was never intended for this purpose. I find that the result usually looks unfinished, and it's not as useful because of the reduced work space. Screengrabbed from this blog site.|
|Here's another example that illustrates the problem exactly: the newer style front-loading washers and dryers are deeper than standard cabinetry. Screengrabbed from this site.|
Given those limitations, the only viable option I found was IKEA's Numerar butcher block, which has the unparalleled advantage of being offered in a 39 inch depth as well as the standard 25 inch depth.
|This puppy. At approximately 73" by 39", that's one walloping big section of countertop. Screengrabbed from the IKEA website.|
In this next section below, I will run you through an extensive set of photographs describing how we retrofit this thing. This type of project does not demand a high level of skill, but you have to be very precise with your measurements, leveling, and cuts.
|You might want to plan on having difficulty procuring this particular Numerar. With it being pretty much the only non-standard-depth countertop on the market at its price point, you can bet that a lot of folks are competing to get them. I had to wait a few weeks for a shipment to arrive at the Houston Texas IKEA, and then when it came in, it started disappearing so fast that I had to drop everything on a weekday afternoon and go fetch one. This particular shipment came in on a Tuesday and was sold out before close of business on the following Saturday. |
The good news is that IKEA has a wonderful on-line live stock tracking utility which is updated every 30 minutes. You can find out what's there and when, without having to get on the telephone.
|There it is, in all its flat-pack glory. It fit into my 2011 minivan with third-row seats folded into the floor. You'll want to plan carefully how you'll get it out of your vehicle once you get it home - it is a full 1.5" thick and the IKEA website reports that it weighs one hundred and seventeen pounds (!). That makes it about one large cat lighter than I am.|
|Ugh. Not your average honey-do.|
|Seriously, you won't regret taking this extra step.|
|The sections of Numerar that were trimmed off did not go to waste. I'll show how they were put to good use in subsequent posts.|
|Husband. Measure, measure, measure.|
|Moment of truth as the newly-cut piece is dry-fit.|
|We notched out the back near the water and drainage connector box so that the hoses could all be brought up from underneath the countertop. I later touched up the paint around this now-moved electrical outlet.|
|See, this is what I meant by pivoting the counter up so that the machine workings could be accessed. My husband is holding it as its weight rests on the back ledge.|
|And here's the final result. Much cleaner looking and much more usable work space in wall-to-wall wonderment.|
Putting a huge heavy piece of Numerar above these machines noticeably reduced the noise they generate. With this "air lock" being next to our kitchen, the constant clank clank clank of stuff turning in the dryer has always been an annoyance, even when the inner door is shut. I could have lived without the new work surface, but had I realized the potential for noise attenuation, I definitely would have pushed this project higher on my priority list. I would have done it four years earlier than we did.
A final note on protecting the Numerar in a laundry room, which is a wet environment much like a kitchen.
I chose to go with IKEA's own food-grade mineral oil wood treatment.
|That's a half liter of Skydd, and I wish I had bought a full liter, because this thing is huge, and it soaks up a lot of oil with repeated applications.|
IKEA Hackers community for inspiring us all to stretch our imaginations in making adaptations such as this one.
And, oh, if you need additional IKEA-related project inspiration, try listening to Jonathan Coulton's IKEA song on YouTube. It's actually pretty good.
I was a doubter just like you
'Till I saw the American dream come true...
|Before and after.|